MELBOURNE, Australia — Naomi Osaka smashed her racket into the court after losing the first set. She tumbled to the court when she tripped in the second.
The U.S. Open champion recovered both times and avoided slipping out of the Australian Open on Saturday with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 third-round win over Hsieh Su-wei.
The fourth-seeded Osaka got a warning from the umpire after she spiked her racket in frustration when Hsieh took the first set with three breaks of service. To get her mind back on track, Osaka said, she had to pretend like it didn’t happen.
“I have fun every time I play,” she said, reminding the crowd: “You guys didn’t see me slam my racket, that’s not something that I did!”
Osaka said she’d have to regroup quickly for her fourth-round match against No. 13 Anastasija Sevastova, who she beat in three sets in the Brisbane International quarterfinals in the first week of the season. Sevastova beat No. 21 Wang Qiang 6-3, 6-3.
Osaka was getting flustered, unable to dictate rallies and unable to find a way to deal with Hsieh’s unusual style. Hsieh, 33, who plays with a double-handed grip on both sides and uses a mixture of spin and slice and drop shots, has taken top-10 players out of majors before. She reached the fourth round here last year.
Photo: David Gray / AFP / Getty Images
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Osaka, 21, found a way back, though, from 4-2 down in the second set when Hsieh was one point away from a 5-2 lead. Osaka got the important break, rallying from being down 40-0 in that game to win five straight points. She finished it with a deep, powerful backhand that Hsieh could barely reach.
Hsieh had a break-point chance in the next game but couldn’t convert, with Osaka saving it with another backhand winner that reinforced the change in momentum.
“Anything that I can do to stay here a bit longer, I tried to do,” said Osaka, who’d never been past the fourth round of a major before last year’s U.S. Open, where she beat Serena Williams in the final.
Williams advanced easily, routing 18-year-old DayanaYastremska 6-2, 6-1, and will play the winner between world No. 1 Simona Halep and Venus Williams, who played later Saturday.
No. 6 seed Elina Svitolina needed treatment on her right shoulder and had to rally from 3-0 down in the third set before fending off Zhang Shuai 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 in a three-hour match.
In late Friday matches, 35th-ranked Danielle Collins, 25, earned a debut trip to the round of 16 at a major with a 6-3, 6-2 win over No. 19 Caroline Garcia. Up next will be three-time major champion Angelique Kerber, who overwhelmed 240th-ranked wild-card entry Kimberly Birrell 6-1, 6-0.
Maria Sharapova beat defending champ Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, and No. 2 men’s seed Rafael Nadal beat No. 27 Alex de Minaur 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.
John Pye is an Associated Press writer.
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